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TODD DRIVES CAMRY TO NHRA TOYOTA NATIONALS WIN; TAKES OVER FUNNY CAR POINT LEAD

LAS VEGAS – J.R. Todd defeated Matt Hagan in the final to win the NHRA Toyota Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway Sunday and take over the Funny Car point lead in the process. The victory is a series-high fifth of the season for Todd and his third in the last six races.

Todd turned in a dominating performance on Sunday, defeating Richard Townsend in the first round and followed up with victories over Kalitta Motorsports teammate Shawn Langdon and then Jack Beckman in the semifinals. That set up his final round battle with Hagan. Hagan had a slight advantage off the line, but Todd pulled almost even by the 60’ mark. He took the lead by 660’ and then pulled away for the victory, winning by .145 seconds or approximately 56 feet.

“It really started on Friday when we didn’t have a good day at all,” said Todd, who now has a 74-point lead over second place Robert Hight. “We qualified 16th and then we were bumped from the field before we ran in Q3 on Saturday. We were really aggressive in Q3 and ran a 3.91 and ended up second. That just goes to show how hard these DHL Toyota guys work. We had some issues on Friday and they stayed late and changed the entire fuel system. We came out and made two really good runs on Saturday.”

“Then today, we were pretty much flawless. It’s so awesome to drive a car like that when it’s so consistent that you don’t have to worry if you have to go out and pedal it. You just go up there and smack the tree as hard as you can and get after it. It’s a lot of fun to drive, but we still have some unfinished business in Pomona. Hopefully, we can go out there and win two trophies.”

Langdon won a crucial first-round match-up against Hight, who entered the event as the Funny Car point leader. The Global Electronic Technologies Toyota driver had taken the lead by 60 feet and drove off to the victory with his quickest pass of the weekend (3.922) as Hight eventually dropped a cylinder.

Cruz Pedregon rounded out the Camry Funny Car contingent with a first-round loss to Courtney Force.

In Top Fuel, Richie Crampton won an all-Kalitta Motorsports Toyota first-round match-up over Doug Kalitta with a 3.797-second pass. He then defeated Brittany Force in the second round before falling to eventual race winner Steve Torrence in the semifinals.

Antron Brown took the early lead over Blake Alexander before dropping a cylinder early. Despite the engine problem, he stayed out front through ‘330 on the way to running a 3.79, but fell short of the victory. Even with the mechanical difficulties, the three-time world champion would have defeated 10 of the other 15 Top Fuel cars in the first round.

After taking next weekend off, the Mello Yello Drag Racing Series closes out the 2018 season at the Auto Club Finals in Pomona, Nov. 9-11.

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